Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014 | 2 a.m.
It was already exhausting playing football at Basic High.
Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer return to the studio to discuss all of Las Vegas' high school football teams a week before the start of the season.
Having cultivated so many rivalries as one of the valley’s oldest schools, the Wolves rarely have an easy game on their schedule. They’re also not usually one of the more privileged teams when it comes to depth, meaning several players tend to hardly ever come off the field.
Therefore, fighting through fatigue was always part of the deal. But Basic has taken it to a whole new level this season.
Players say the focus of the offseason was intense cardio in an effort to get into the best shape possible.
“When we get tired, we get sloppy, so when conditioning comes, keep going and stay with your technique,” senior offensive lineman Cristian Morales described the philosophy. “Keep driving off the ball.”
The hope is that the conditioning assists Basic in moving on from last season where something uncharacteristic happened: a losing record. The 4-5 regular-season tally was the worst in coach Jeff Cahill’s six-year tenure at the school, and a 63-24 loss to Las Vegas in the first round of the playoffs didn’t soothe the wound.
Cahill was so unsatisfied that he rearranged coaching duties. He relinquished play-calling duties to new offensive coordinator Robby Faiman, who starred as a quarterback at Basic in 2008, and took over the defense himself.
A switch felt necessary after the Wolfpack gave up 38 points per game last season, including more than 50 on five occasions.
“We’re going to be a lot more attacking defense,” Cahill said. “We’re going to be doing multiple times. We’re going to run our defense more like an offense.”
Cahill touts many new faces, and not just because he’s heading a different unit. With only four returning senior starters, Basic has an all-new look in 2014.
A single player, quarterback Antraye Johnson, accounted for 70 percent of the yards a season ago. While it’s never a positive to lose someone with that level of talent, Basic sees hidden benefits.
“Last year was more of a one-man team,” senior receiver Chris Flum said. “If you like to believe it or not, it really was. I think if we can learn to work together, then we can get things done.”
Flum is one of several receivers who could have an impact. New quarterback Aeneas McAllister, a junior, has a lot of passing options with Flum, senior Mason Hiedmann, senior Dallon Ellett and junior Brian Evans.
Evans and Hiedmann are also members of the first unit Cahill labeled as a strength — the linebackers. They’re among the players who will carry on the hardworking tradition at Basic.
They might even be elevating the reputation.
“I think it starts with the conditioning,” Flum said. “We need to push when it gets hard. That way, when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, we can finish.”